HALLIE EPHRON: I'm turning in my manuscript TODAY and the poor spellchecker is choking on some of my words:
5. chak chak chak
So I'm wondering if my nonsense words really do seem like the sounds that I am attempting to reproduce. So, help me out here. Match those sounds (1-8) to these things that make them (a-h).
a. Bone china
b. Cash register
c. Super Mario Brothers coins
d. Angry squirrel
e. A car engine trying (unsuccessfully) to turn over
f. A garage door coming down and closing
g. An emergency vehicle siren
h. Someone expressing disbelieef
(Answers later today in comments. Giving away a copy of the new paperback of COME AND FIND ME to the commenter who guesses closest. )
Conspicuously absent is ACK! -- my favorite expression of surprise. I just couldn't find a place for it in the book. Lucy Burdette, knowing it's my favorite word, gave it to me once as a present (picture).
What nonsense words for sounds do you use in your writing? Wondering, are British and other era's nonsense words different from American?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: PPfff. I'm expressing disbelief that your spellchecker is so--provincial. (Parochial? I always get those mixed up.) Nonsense words. In my book. Um. Er. Eeesh. Yikes. I think--I don't. (Chak chak chak--I'm angry about it now!) I do have a scene where the cat "merped." I say whuffled. And whiffled, now I think of it. One of 'em has to go, I suppose...
HALLIE: Oh, I had a cat that used to merp all the time. All over the bed.
JAN BROGAN: I'm not sure I can contribute much to this already comprehensive list. But I have a question, was it Lucy or Sally from Peanuts who used to say ACK all the time?
HALLIE: Bill the Cat in Bloom County used to say "ACK!" and "Thbbft!" Charlie Brown used to say "Sigh."
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I remember "Thbbft!" Which, I think, conveys the sound of someone blowing a raspberry perfectly. These aren't really nonsense words, though, are they? They're kind of like onomatopoeias (onomatopoeiae?) except the sound-descriptive words aren't also used as verbs. We say "The cat meowed," but we don't say "The cat thbbfted." Though perhaps we could get some sort of linguistic groundswell going...
HALLIE: "How right you are," she ACKed...
DEBORAH CROMBIE: My favorite by far is "ARRGGHH." One can add as many consonants as needed, and it expresses all degrees of frustration. It also makes you feel like a pirate:-)
JULIA: No, no--ARRRrrrrr is piratical. Thinking about this, I realize I use a lot more of these locutions in life than I do in my books. Like "skritches" for the dog and "rubbly-rubbly-rubbly" which is the sound of rubbing the cat's belly. Or "hengulla-hengulla-hengulla," which as I'm sure you all know, refers to quality time spent with your spouse or partner. (My college-aged daughter reads this blog. Sorry, sweetie.)
HALLIE: Please, share your favorite nonsense words and answer the quiz and enter the drawing for a book.